New Delhi: Bollywood star and the darling of the masses, Sanjay Dutt, has been convicted by the TADA court in Mumbai to six years rigourous imprisonment under the Arms Act for illegal possession of an AK-56. The actor had procured the gun from key conspirators in the 1993 Mumbai blasts that killed more than 250 people.
Justice P.D. Kode, who delivered the sentence on 31 July, said The filmstar was aware of the consequences of his action and the fact that the weapon could have harmed others. The actor was also fined Rs 25,000.
Dutt starts serving his sentence immediately after the court rejected his bail application. However, he can apply for bail later. Opinion is divided over whether he can do this at the Bombay High Court — given that the conviction is under the Arms Act and not under TADA — or directly at the Supreme Court given that the sentence was, after all, delivered by a TADA court.
Television reports say that Dutt’s past track record in procuring arms could have influenced the courts decision to hand down the sentence. The court had noted that the actor had illegally bought a 9mm pistol in 1992, before the acquiusiton of the AK-56. The court also considered Dutt’s role in influencing others to commit a crime by asking them to destroy the weapon.
The reports added Satish Maneshinde, Dutt’s lawyer, said the actor will apply directly to the Supreme Court for Bail, but indicated that the actor will have to spend at least some time in jail.
Dutt’s co-accused Yusuf Nullwalla got five years, while the other accused, Rusi Mulla, was let off following the acceptance of his probation report by the court.
The star, currently riding the crest of popularity, has already served 18 months in jail following his arrest, and it appears he will have to serve another 4-1/2 years behind bars, a sentence that will affect Bollywood who is left scrambling to fill roles he was slated to star in, besides suffering losses amounting to crores of rupees.
Dutt, 48, has been out on bail for the past 12 years while the trial dragged on though he was allowed to act in films in the interim.
— With agencies